The 2012 gangrape in Delhi was “committed with the highest viciousness”, the Supreme Court said in its verdict while upholding the death sentences of the four accused in the case on Friday. “There is not even a hint of hesitation in my mind with respect to the aggravating circumstances outweighing the mitigating circumstances,” said Justice Banumati, who was part of the bench.

“The accused may not be hardened criminals, but the cruel manner in which the gangrape was committed in the moving bus...shocks the collective conscience of the society,” the Supreme Court judge said in the ruling. “If at all there is a case warranting award of death sentence, it is the present case.”

Justice Dipak Mishra, who was also part of the bench that upheld the death sentences, said of the attack: “It sounds like a story from a different world where humanity has been treated with irreverence...It is manifest that the wanton lust, the servility to absolutely unchained carnal desire and slavery to the loathsome beastility of passion ruled the mindset of the appellants...”

Six men had raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old student in Delhi in December 2012. The attack shook the country and saw mass protests in several cities and towns. One of the rapists was a juvenile. The woman had succumbed to her injuries on December 29 the same year at a hospital in Singapore.

A trial court had ordered death sentences for the five adult attackers in September 2013. This was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later. However, the Supreme Court had issued a stay order on the sentence after the convicts appealed against it. One of the convicts had died in prison.